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  ScienceZoologyBirdsOrder Anseriformes
Tundra SwanTundra Swan

Cygnus columbianus (aka Whistling Swan)


The tundra swan is a large, long-necked waterbird with short legs and a short duck-like bill. It has an average length of 36 inches and a wingspan of 85 inches.

It can be distinguished from other swans by the presence of a yellow spot at the base of its black beak, the black of the bill extending up to the eye but not encircling it, and the straight demarcation on the forehead between black bill and white feathering. It also has black legs and feet. Both sexes are similar in size and appearance.

Distribution and Habitat

The tundra swan is found throughout most of North America, spending its summer in the Arctic regions of Alaska and Canada and its winter along the West Coast of the United States, in New Mexico and Texas, and along the Eastern Seaboard. It enjoys fresh water habitats such as lakes, ponds, and streams, but will also visit salt water bays and estuaries.


Tundra swans are generally monogamous, often forming breeding pairs that stay together for several seasons.

Three to six dull, white eggs are laid in early spring. The female rarely leaves the nest during the incubation period, and the male keeps a constant guard. The chicks hatch by late June and are reared by both parents for about a year.


Tundra swans feed on the seeds and roots of aquatic vegetation, as well as some shellfish.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Aves
order Anseriformes
family Anatidae
subfamily Anserinae
genus & species Cygnus columbianus

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This page was last updated on September 19, 2015.

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